WKP Artist Spotlight - Allan Hirsh
Allan Hirsh is a woodworker and a sculptor. He breathes new life into found objects and treasures that he has acquired over the years. Each piece has its own story and often ignites a sense of play. Over the last 22 years, Allan has exhibited his assemblages at the Kennedy Gallery, White Water Gallery, Temiskaming Art Gallery in Haileybury, Ferneyhough Contemporary Gallery, Novah Gallery, and the Coles Art Market in Huntsville. Allan has also been a published cartoonist. After 50 years as a psychotherapist, Allan has recently retired. His creativity and artistic expression has helped him stay relatively sane after all these years.
With his newest solo-exhibition, "Retirement" on view at the WKP Kennedy Gallery from July 4th - August 4th, 2023, we interviewed Allan to learn more about himself and his artistic practice.
What inspires your art?
I am interested in the relationships that different objects have with each other. I enjoy exploring visual balance. Texture, colour and type of material are all taken into account. I love antiques and wood and metal with patina. Individual artefacts that once were used daily have been discarded and ignored. I find these objects and try to see their texture, shape and use in a new light. I create a new story for them in the creation of my assemblages. New relationships and meanings are formed and the new gestalt offers an organization that is hopefully both unique and visually interesting.
How do you start a piece, and what steps do you take in your process?
An artefact that I find interesting, will rest for a while in a cluttered, but organized workshop until its new calling becomes apparent. A central idea triggered by a particular object will generate a process of assembly in which objects are added or taken away with the goal of intuitively improving what the eye sees.
Is there a specific medium you enjoy working with the most?
I like assemblage or found object art. I enjoy working mainly with wood and metal. Each piece of sculpture will require multiple production steps and workshop skill levels. I like the challenge and variation of using the tools in my collection.
Tell us about your studio set-up.
My studio/workshop is in a garage separate from my house. It is cluttered, but organized. I have power and hand tools at my disposal. I like working with the garage door wide open so I am not effected by saw dust or chemical toxins. I use intuition all through my creative process. I rely on a sense of play and flow. Using power tools and sharp objects require that I stay focused on the task at hand in the here and now. I tend to feel very peaceful when I am in my studio.
How do you define success as an artist?
Have I used my hands competently? Is my assemblage visually balanced to my eyes? Do the colours and textures work together? Will the piece hold together over time? Will the glued pieces stay together? Do other people appreciate what I have done? Do they appreciate on some level what is behind my work? Is my creativity appreciated? Is there interest in my creativity? Will someone want a piece of mine in their home?
Are there any artists that you look up to or who influence your practice?
Louise Nevelson created very striking assemblages out of hundreds of interesting scraps of wood which she then painted black.
The famous sculptor, Henry Moore said that he adds something to make it better or he takes something away to make it better. The simplicity and complexity of that statement was inspiring to me and helped me find a practical process that worked for me.
Is there a specific work you’ve completed that you are the most proud of?
In the last 25 years of sculpture work, there have been many pieces that hold up over time and still bring me joy when I look at them. I am grateful for that.
Do you have any advice for new and emerging artists?
Keep creating art. Not every piece will be wonderful, but your eye and your abilities will improve with practice.
Be sure to check out Allan's featured documentary produced by Matthew Kuzyk to learn more about the sculptor's practice and exhibition!